American basketball player Candace Parker stood chatting with media while holding her three-year-old daughter Lailaa in her arms, the little one playing with the gold medal hanging around her mom’s neck.
“We told her we’re going to get a gold medal, and when she saw the gold medal, she was happy, and she told me she wanted a smaller one,” said Parker, then directing the next bit right to the child. “Well maybe you’ll have to work on getting your own.”
With the level of dominance being enjoyed by the U.S women’s basketball team at the Olympics, that gold rush may still be going uninterrupted by the time girls young Lailaa’s age are suiting up for Team USA.
Perhaps the most predictable bet at the London Games, the U.S. women’s basketball team won its fifth straight Olympic gold medal on Saturday, further distinguishing itself when it comes to long-standing success at the Games.
Parker, the Los Angeles Sparks star, lead the way with 21 points as an American squad full of all-stars from the Women’s National Basketball Association, throttled France 86-50 to take the gold. It concludes tournament where the U.S. defeated its opponents 725 - 450. France took silver, Australia bronze.
The statistics compiled by the American women’s Olympic basketball team at recent Games are jaw-dropping.
The USA is now riding a 41-0 Olympic winning streak, which dates back 20 years to the 1992 when it lost to the Unified Team in Barcelona. The U.S. would recover from that semi-final loss and go on to capture the bronze medal. That run includes gold medals in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.
“The women I grew up watching have paved the way,” said Angel McCoughtry, who was just six the last time the U.S. women lost an Olympic game. “Someone told me if you only win by 10, that’s considered a loss. I was like what? That’s the standard we’re held to in the U.S.”
Some 20,000 fans looked on at North Greenwich Arena in London. To compare, the 2011 WNBA finals averaged 7200 fans per game.
“The Olympics is such great exposure for women’s team sports,” said McCoughtry. “I had 15,000 followers on Twitter before the Olympics, and suddenly I have well over 20,000. “
Overall in Olympic play the U.S. women are 58-3 since women’s basketball was added to the Olympic program in 1976.
Back in 2008, with its four-straight gold medals won from 1996-2008, the U.S. Olympic women’s basketball team became the most successful U.S. women’s traditional team sport in history. No other country’s women’s traditional team sport can boast four consecutive Olympic gold medals.
There are a handful of women’s traditional Olympic teams that have won three straight Olympic titles, including the Canadian women’s hockey team (gold in 2002, 2006 and 2010), Cuba’s volleyball team (gold in 1992, 1996 and 2000) and Denmark’s handball team (gold in 1996, 2000, 2004).